These steps toward active reading help you understand and engage with written material and increase information retention.
Before you tackle any reading, identify the main ideas to better comprehend and retain details you’ll encounter later. Spend time familiarizing yourself with the text as a whole. Check out the author’s biographical information, publication information, and the table of contents. Look at each chapter and read the introduction, subheadings, first sentence of each section, and the conclusion. Take time to read any charts or diagrams included in each chapter.
Make some projections about the reading by summarizing the main idea and thinking about how the text is organized. Consider how difficult the reading might be and how long it could take to read.
Set realistic goals for how long and how many pages you’ll be able to read. Don’t try to read the entire chapter nonstop. Instead, divide it into small sections, such as half pages or columns, and read them individually. Ask yourself a question before each paragraph or section and try to answer it as you read. Take short breaks when your mind starts to wander.
Recall mentally or recite the highlights of what you’ve read. As you read, ask yourself questions and answer them. Underline key words or phrases in each section, and write notes in your margins. Summarize the material in your own words.